Just Can’t Lose the Weight

Q: I’ve tried everything and I’m still seriously overweight. I’m considering bariatric surgery. What do I need to know before making this decision?

A: Many people think of weight-loss surgery as a moral defeat: It’s unnatural and it’s cutting corners. But for those with life-threatening obesity — a body mass index of 40 or higher, or 35 or higher with side effects like diabetes and high blood pressure — surgery could be the best choice.

If you’re part of this group, and if you’ve repeatedly tried diet and exercise without results, here’s what you need to know: This is major surgery that has risks (blood clots, infection) as well as rewards (a thinner, longer life). Most of all, you must commit to changing your postoperative lifestyle: You know, eating healthy foods and exercising regularly. Follow that, and it’ll be an effective procedure that will do more than improve your looks. It will improve your health — drastically.

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